RALEIGH – President Barack Obama is known to be a Lincoln scholar and frequently quotes from the16th president’s speeches and writings. President Obama is scheduled to attend the Springfield, Ill., Lincoln Bicentennial Symposium. More scholarship about Honest Abe will be shared here at “The Lincoln Bicentennial: A Symposium” at the N.C. Museum of History on Thursday, Feb. 12, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Abraham Lincoln was born Feb. 12, 1809, and Barack Obama became president in January 2009, 200 years later. Obama’s theme for his inauguration was a phrase taken from Lincoln’s Gettysburg address “A New Birth of Freedom.” Many comparisons and connections are made between the president who freed the slaves and America’s first black president. This symposium will explore Lincoln’s tenure in the sessions “Lincoln’s Legacy,” “Lincoln’s Political Leadership: An Overview,” “Lincoln as a Military Commander,” and “Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, and the End of Slavery.”
The Lincoln Symposium is organized by the Office of Archives and History in the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources as part of a larger sesquicentennial commemoration of the Civil War. Additional sessions of the Lincoln Symposium will examine other influences of Lincoln’s time, including “Jefferson Davis as President of the Confederacy: A Comparison” and “United States Colored Troops.”
“This is the perfect moment to reaccess the Lincoln legacy,” observes Dr. Jeffrey Crow, deputy secretary of Cultural Resources and North Carolina liaison to the national Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission http://www.lincoln200.net. “When Lincoln was elected president, more than four million African Americans were enslaved and free blacks faced harsh discrimination. The election of an African American president would have been unthinkable.”
Registration is $10 for the full day, including a closing reception at 5 p.m. Morning or afternoon half day registration is $5. Call Karen Pochala-Peck at (919) 807-7280 or Parker Backstrom at (919) 807-7279.
The Office of Archives and History and the N.C. Museum of History are within the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources, a state agency dedicated to the promotion and protection of North Carolina’s arts, history and culture. It is now podcasting 24/7 with information about the Department of Cultural Resources, and it is observing the 2009 theme “Treasure N.C. Culture.”
State Archives Exhibit at N.C. Museum of History
In honor of the bicentennial occasion, State Archives will exhibit several Lincoln documents from its collection at the N.C. Museum of History in Raleigh. The items on loan from the N.C. State Archives will be on view from Tuesday, Feb. 10, to Sunday, Feb. 15. Admission is free. One of the documents is from March 16, 1861, a letter sent to N.C. Governor John Ellis with the original Thirteenth Amendment, known today as the “ghost amendment” that would have denied the federal government the ability to intervene with slavery in any of the states where that condition existed.
“Lincoln doesn’t say yea, or nay, but it is clearly a part of a larger effort to try to prevent civil war. He didn’t make emancipation of the slaves a goal of the war until late 1862″ says Dr. Jeffrey J. Crow, Deputy Secretary, Department of Cultural Resources. “The ghost amendment is the evil twin of the real Thirteenth Amendment to abolish slavery.”
Lincoln’s signature appears on two of the documents: an 1861 cover letter for the proposed 13th amendment to the U.S. Constitution and an 1862 letter to the Tsar of Russia. The third document is a well-known 1861 transcription of North Carolina Gov. John Ellis’ telegram to Pres. Lincoln in response to Lincoln’s call for 75,000 troops to curb the rebellion in the South.
A description of each document follows.
A cover letter signed by Pres. Lincoln accompanied the “Ghost Amendment,” which was transmitted to the United States on March 13, 1861, as a prospective 13th amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Intended to keep Southern states from seceding, the proposed amendment would have prevented Congress from interfering with or abolishing slavery in states where it existed. The letter arrived in Raleigh, along with the amendment, which was never ratified. In time another amendment, abolishing slavery, became the Constitution’s thirteenth.
Pres. Lincoln’s signature appears on an April 8, 1862, letter to the Tsar of Russia announcing U.S. Sen. Cassius Clay’s recall from St. Petersburg. Clay, a native of Kentucky, was a soldier in the Mexican War and an outspoken emancipationist. He was appointed minister to Russia in 1861 but was recalled in 1862 to be appointed major general in the U. S. Army.
In response to Pres. Lincoln’s call for troops on April 15, 1861, Sec. of War Simon Cameron sent a telegram to Gov. Ellis asking for two regiments of North Carolina troops to report directly. Gov. Ellis quickly replied by telegram, denying the request. The original telegram is housed in the National Archives; however, the text was hand copied into the governor’s letter book, which will be on exhibit.
Registration is $10 for the full day, including a closing reception at 5 p.m. Call Karen Pochala-Peck at (919) 807-7280 or Parker Backstrom at (919) 807-7279.
Welcome, Jeffrey J. Crow, North Carolina Office of Archives and History
“Lincoln’s Political Leadership: An Overview”
William C. Harris, North Carolina State University
“Jefferson Davis as President of the Confederacy: A Comparison”
Paul D. Escott, Wake Forest University
Lunch on your own
“Lincoln as Military Commander”
Joseph T. Glatthaar, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
“United States Colored Troops”
John David Smith, University of North Carolina at Charlotte
3:00 P.M. Break
“Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, and the End of Slavery”
Loren Schweninger, University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Heather A. Williams, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
5:00 P.M. Reception
William C. Harris, emeritus Professor of History at North Carolina State University, was recipient of the Lincoln Prize in 1998 for his book With Charity for All: Lincoln and the Restoration of the Union. He is the author most recently of Lincoln’s Rise to the Presidency (2007).
Paul D. Escott, Reynolds Professor of History at Wake Forest University, is the author of Military Necessity: Civil-Military Relations in the Confederacy (2006).
Joseph T. Glatthaar, Stephenson Distinguished Professor of History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is the author of General Lee’s Army: From Victory to Collapse (2008).
John David Smith, Charles H. Stone Distinguished Professor of History at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, is the editor of Black Soldiers in Blue: African American Troops in the Civil War Era (2002).
Loren Schweninger, Elizabeth Rosenthal Excellence Professor of History at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, was recipient of the Lincoln Prize (along with his co-author John Hope Franklin) for Runaway Slaves: Rebels on the Plantation (2002).
Heather A. Williams, Associate Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is the author of Self-Taught: African American Education in Slavery and Freedom (2005).
Lincoln and North Carolina
Abraham Lincoln’s connections with North Carolina were political, not personal. Lincoln had scarcely any interaction with the state until his presidential campaign in 1859-1860, and even then his name did not appear on the ballot in the state. His election in 1860 sent many planters reeling. The break did not come officially until shortly after the firing on Fort Sumter when Lincoln asked North Carolina to raise two regiments of soldiers to help put down the insurrection. Governor John Ellis responded, “You can get no troops from North Carolina.” Several weeks later, a convention of delegates passed the secession ordinance.
Lincoln never visited North Carolina. In February 1865 he took part in the shipboard Hampton Roads Conference at Newport News, Virginia, likely the closest he came to being in the state during his lifetime. North Carolina does lay claim to a personal connection with the Lincoln family. Mary Todd Lincoln’s seamstress was Elizabeth Keckly, a former slave who spent her youth in her master’s house in Hillsborough.
During and immediately after the war, Lincoln was the object of various displays of veneration in North Carolina. Elizabeth James founded the Lincoln School at the Freedmen’s Colony on Roanoke Island prior to the end of the war. In September 1865, during the first Freedmen’s Convention in Raleigh, a bust of Lincoln was placed in the front of the sanctuary of the AME Church.
Although no towns or cities in North Carolina are named for the sixteenth president, the Lincoln Heights Rosenwald School operated in Wilkesboro, as did the Lincoln Hospital for African Americans in Durham. Carl Sandburg, who received the Pulitzer Prize for his biography of Lincoln, from 1946 until his death in 1967 lived at “Connemara” in Flat Rock.
He can compress the most words into the smallest ideas of any man I ever met.
Nearly all men can stand adversity. But if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.
The probability that we may fail in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just.
Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.
I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crises. The great point is to bring them the real facts.
You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.
Others on Lincoln –
“Out of the smoke and stench, out of the music and violent dreams of the war, Lincoln stood perhaps taller than any other of the many great heroes. This was in the minds of many. None threw a longer shadow than he. And to him the great hero was The People. He could not say too often that he was merely their instrument.” Carl Sandburg, Abraham Lincoln: The War Years, 4 vols. (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1939), 4: 387.
The N.C. Department of Cultural Resources is a state agency dedicated to the promotion and protection of North Carolina’s arts, history and culture. It is now podcasting 24/7 with information about the Department of Cultural Resources, all available at www.ncculture.com.